What is Distance Riding?

WHAT IS DISTANCE RIDING?

By Dodie Sable, for Sound Advocate

June 8, 2012

The sport of Distance Riding is becoming more popular as Baby Boomers mature and begin seeking other avenues to explore with their horse. It is trail riding at the extreme! A distance rider spends hours and miles in the saddle on trail (and yes, even in the ring) conditioning their equine partner, and themselves, in preparation of competing against other horse/rider partners at distances of 25 miles to 100 miles…all ridden in one day.

There are three main organizations which support, promote and track these competitions. We encourage all readers to visit these websites to learn more specifics of the sport and to find a competent mentor to assist in helping a new rider to get started in the sport.

American Endurance Ride Conference www.aerc.org AERC – A National Organization to promote Endurance riding.

Federation Equestre International www.fei.org FEI – A Worldwide Organization to promote Endurance riding.

North American Trail Ride Conference www.natrc.org NATRC – A National Organization to promote Competitive Trail Riding.

Today’s article will focus on Endurance. What is Endurance? It is the competing and completing of 50 or more miles in one day, at a ride sanctioned by AERC. It is managed by a ride staff which includes a ride manager, secretary, trail boss, several veterinarians, lay judges and tons of volunteers to assist riders and ride management.

A rider prepares their equine partner for a year or more to compete 50 miles. Two years to compete 75 miles. Three years to compete 100 miles. Not all, but most, serious endurance riders have a goal of doing their first 100 mile, one day ride. Many riders are content to only compete in 50 mile rides.

Rides are held all across America. Trail systems for these rides are held on state lands, national forest parks, and private landowner properties.

The main goal of this sport is complete the 50 miles with a sound horse. Vet checks are set up throughout the ride and horses are checked for metabolic changes, gait changes, attitude changes and are Passed or Failed by a qualified veterinarian to continue. The motto of AERC is “TO FINISH IS TO WIN”. Although each ride will have a “winner”, the first horse to complete and vetted sound to continue, everyone that completes the ride is a winner.

Basically, and again we encourage all readers interested in the sport to visit the above websites for more information, the rides go as follows.

50 miles – 2 or 3 vet checks during the ride and a final finish line vet check. A rider has 12 hours to complete the 50 miles. This time includes the vet holds, which are usually 40 minutes each.

75 miles – 3 or 4 vet checks during the ride and a final finish line vet check. A rider has 18 hours to complete the 75 miles. This time includes the vet holds, which are usually 40 minutes each, and the stop-n-gos, which are usually 10 minutes each.

100 miles – 4 or 5 vet checks during the ride and a final finish line vet check. A rider has 24 hours to complete the 100 miles. . This time includes the vet holds, which are usually 40 minutes each, and the stop-n-gos, which are usually 10 minutes each.

Endurance is timed and the first 10 riders that complete are all vetted with a pointing system. The highest completion is called the Best Condition (BC) rider for that ride. All riders completing earn points in their weight division as well as miles for the ride. AERC has year end awards in many categories utilizing these points and completed miles.

A shorter version of endurance is found at all the rides, called a Limited Distance. The trail distance is usually between 25 and 30 miles. Same Endurance rules apply as the longer distances, but this is not considered Endurance. These rides are for those riders that are just starting out, horses that are new to the sport, or for riders that simply enjoy to competition of timed trail riding but do not want to do the longer distances. Many rider/equine partners compete only the limited distance and they have a grand time!

Gaited horses do very well in this sport and FOSH is now opening up a Distance program. We encourage you to visit the FOSH website to view the Rules and Regulations of participating in the Distance program.